Monday, October 15, 2012

Halloween Tour: Dawn in Stephen King's "Derry"

A structure in the Barrens
Something is wrong in Derry, something is off.  A feeling of despair hangs over the city, much as a fog of industrial exhaust clouded the city's skies years ago.  Now, for the most part, the industry is gone, but the screams of the old machinery linger in dark corners, waiting to terrify all who happen upon them.

We've avoided Derry for years; too many deaths, too many disappearances, too many innocents lost.  But Halloween is upon us, and it was time to tackle the scariest waters of Maine; Derry's Kenduskeag River and the stream that runs through the Barrens.

We were lucky that the road to Derry was open. The previous night, as we listened to WKIT, the evening DJ reported on an experiment gone wrong at Derry's military facility.  But this morning, there was a new report assuring us everything was okay and we should just go about our normal lives.  The voice giving the report was a little mechanical, and didn’t sound like the normal crew, but WKIT soon launched into “Something in the Air” by Tom Petty followed up by Anthrax and Poison songs before playing the all-clear notice again. It's great to have a locally owned and operated Rock Station, they can play whatever they want.

We awoke early for this trip.  Just after sunrise is the best time to visit Derry, the night denizens have gone back into hiding and the daylight specters have yet to awaken.   Our goal was to launch at the Kenduskeag, paddle up to the stream, explore the Barrens and get out again quickly. 

 On the Kenduskeag everything was at peace.

 Soon we were out the mouth of the stream, the “canal section,” a mysterious place with buildings built in the middle of bridges.
Beneath the bridges, pigeons cooed mournfully.  In the sky, a collection of ring-bill gulls flew about, coruscating as their twisting flight took their bright white bellies into and out of the rays of the sun.  Could there be a message there?  Were these flashes an avian Morse code, designed to provide us with clues necessary for our survival?

Beyond the bridges, where the Barrens properly begins, we were treated to a vision of autumn loveliness; brilliant trees and a picturesque foot bridge.  My spirits lifted.  There was nothing hiding in the woods, no reason not to go further into the Barrens.

We paddled along the still water, Mark pausing to peer down the storm drains, hoping to catch on camera a pair of silver eyes.

As we approached a second bridge, this one built of rusty metal and crumbling concrete, the dark waters of the stream were no longer quiet.  The stream actively worked to stall our progress, shoving us backwards with all its might.  Below the surface unseen objects blocked our paddle strokes.

 The morning mist crept out from where it was hiding behind the trees and slipped soundlessly on to the water’s surface, piling up in an ominous tower.
I turned to my companion, heart caught in my throat, “You know Mark, water is our element and our friend.  This water is saying we should go no further.”

Reluctantly he agreed, though he was certain that just a short beyond the bridge he would have found photographic evidence of Pennywise.

We reversed course.  Mark may have been disappointed but I was jubilant that we had not met any evil shape-shifting clowns, aliens, rabid dogs, "bubbles" which could shift us to 1958, or just everyday folk suddenly overcome with evil.  In a short time we were again in clear air, and I celebrated our victory.

Too soon!  As if it could read our thoughts the fog rallied, then gathered before the canal entrance!  It was as though it was daring us to make it through.  This was no ordinary fog.

Could this fog be related to the report of the military accident?  Was it in fact a sentient beast?

Mark and I looked at each other, debating what our best course of action should be.  In the end, Mark declared the obvious, we could not linger in Derry, the risks were too great, our way upstream was blocked, we had no choice but to hold our breath and enter the mist.  Mark bravely entered first.
With no other options, I took a final gulp of air and paddled for all I was worth.  Soon we were once again on the wide Kenduskeag, then on shore and back in our car headed out of Derry.  Safe and unharmed, except for an odd green rash which seems to change shape if I look away, but that’s probably nothing, right??

A few other photos from Derry:

Paul Bunyan Statue


And finally a few shots from Bangor; of the residence where four impressive authors have lived; creating amazing tales which keep their audiences captivated from beginning to end.  And when I think about the effort it takes for me to create these short posts I am even more amazed at the craft of  Stephen King, Tabitha King and their sons, Joe Hill and Owen King.

Any resemblance between Bangor and Derry; Kenduskeag and the Penobscot, the Barrens and the Kenduskeag Stream Park will fade as darkness returns.


  1. What an awesome tale, and pics! You went lookin' for trouble and mystery. It's that time of year.

    Cheers from Canada.

  2. Spooky indeed! Boo! Great "mood" and "atmosphere" tale!

  3. Thanks guys! It definitely feels like Halloween is in the air here. The big question; will there be snow by Halloween?